Photo Tip Friday: How to Use Water in Photography

by Mary Denman @MaryDenman

Looking Glass Fall by Mary Denman Photography

Water is an incredibly dynamic substance. It's constantly changing. Because of this, it can add great interest and depth to your photography. 

So how can you use water in your photography? 

Let's go over some examples. 

PHOTO 1: Fall Leaves Reflection

PHOTO 1: Here's a shot of a lake in the summer. I took a reflection shot of the tree and sun on the water and kept part of the rail in the picture to complete the feel of the photo. I wanted anyone looking at the shot to feel the warmth of the day. 

But I didn't stop here. 

As I turned around, I saw the light literally dancing on the inside of the roof of the gazebo. 

PHOTO 2: Light in the gazebo
So I took PHOTO 2

See the mottled light on the wood of the roof? It made the ceiling come alive. Any other time of day and I probably wouldn't have noticed it. 

While the light absolutely played a key factor in noticing the gazebo, it was the movement of the water that made the light dance. 

Which leads us to our first tip.

TIP 1: Water provides a great reflector for light. Whether you capture the reflection of the lights on the water or the lights reflecting off the water onto another subject, look for how water plus light can enhance your photos. 

Let's move on to another property of water. 

PHOTO 3: Looking into water by Mary Denman Photography
PHOTO 3: In this picture, I was looking straight down at the water. The vibrant colors of the fall leaves contrasted with the grays and browns of the river rocks and caught my eye. 

Because I was standing directly over the water, as opposed to looking across the surface of the water, I was able to take a picture that was clear where you can see below the surface. Notice the rippled shadows and play of light in the water? You can also see the stark shadows of the leaves on the bottom. 

Why is this? Because I looked straight down, I cut down on any glare or reflection that would have blocked the view through the water. 

TIP 2: Taking a picture straight down through water allows you to see below the surface, provided you have clear water. You don't see any reflections of what's above this spot in the river in photo 3. 

PHOTO 4: Water is very dynamic
Let's move on to the next shot.

PHOTO 4: This photo was taken at the top of waterfall.  Look at the spray of the water. I took this shot at: ISO 200, f/4.5, 1/125 sec. 

The fast speed stops the action of the water and captures the image in a fraction of a second. 

TIP 3: Use a fast shutter speed to stop the action of water. A lot of your pictures of water will come out blurry in a not good way if you don't utilize a fast enough shutter speed. So experiment before you find yourself wanting to get that great shot!

Water is a great medium to experiment with. You can start right now. If you have a kitchen sink or garden hose, you can practice today!

I'm going to try something new. I'm including LINKY below. If you'd like to leave a link to show off your photography, especially pertaining to the Photography Tips, please do and I'll drop by your blog. I ask that the photos stay family friendly. 

Hope these tips help!

Keep on clicking! 





  1. This looks so amazing. Pinned and tweeted. We love to party with you, so I hope to see you tonight at 7 pm.. Have an amazing day! Lou Lou Girls

  2. Thanks! Amazing tips!